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MCC

A brief history ...

Martin Williamson

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The Marylebone Cricket Club evolved from the White Conduit Club in 1787, when Thomas Lord laid out his first ground in Dorset Square at the request of members. In 1810 Lord was forced to move his ground to an area bordering Regent's Park but that was far from popular and in 1814 he moved for the final time to the present site. The original pavilion, housing the club's artifacts, was burned down in 1825 but over the coming century the ground and the club evolved into being the centre of the cricket world.

Its members revised the laws in 1788 and gradually took on responsibility for cricket throughout the world, and in the 1870s also drew up the first laws of tennis. The club was the most important in the world during the nineteenth century and many of the major matches involved MCC sides and were played at Lord's.

In 1903-04 the club took over the job of selecting touring sides, previously the domain of private individuals, and England overseas continued to be officially named MCC until the late 1970s.

To many people's minds the MCC, famous for its garish colours of red and yellow - more commonly referred to as egg and bacon - is something of an anachronism in modern cricket, and the club is aware of that. As the game evolved so its role in the game changed. The ICC took charge of running the international game and the TCCB (latterly the ECB) the national one. The MCC took on more of an ambassadorial role overseas, sending high-standard teams, usually featuring a smattering of Test and county players, to tour emerging countries as well as fielding more than 400 sides in outmatches across the UK every summer. The club has also actively promoted the Spirit of Cricket which looks to ensure that all players take part in accordance with the ethos and spirit of the game.

In 1997, after years of bitter infighting, it voted to allow women to join the 18,000+ membership and to enter the pavilion. There was no massive overnight influx, mainly because of the waiting list which means it can take two decades to get in. Nor did the earth shift on its axis.

Martin Williamson is executive editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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